CEOs Recommended Reading List [v1]

To advance the conversation around critical topics in national security and the U.S. role in the world, BENS publishes our list of books representing all-time favorites and new releases. The list includes essential works on statecraft, geopolitics, and civil-military relations, as well as emerging challenges in political risk and foreign policy.

A selected book from the list is featured each month in our Executive Brief newsletter. We hope the writers and topics represented on the reading list will generate ideas for future events, providing members with opportunities to discuss issues of interest with authors and experts directly.

Leadership, Patriotism and Personal Growth

Medal Of Honor Quotes: Inspiration From America's Military Heroes

By Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, 2010

A Message to Garcia by Elbert Hubbard (1982)

By Elbert Hubbard, 1982

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

By Laura Hillenbrand, 2010

Night (Night)

By Elie Wiesel, 2006

Foundations of Strategy

Strategic Thinking in 3D: A Guide for National Security, Foreign Policy, and Business Professionals

By Ross Harrison, 2013

Good Strategy, Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters

By Richard Rumelt, 2011

American National Security Strategy, 7th edition

By Michael Meese, Suzanne Nielsen, and Rachel Sondheimer, 2018

Political Risk: How Businesses and Organizations Can Anticipate Global Insecurity

By Condoleezza Rice and Amy Zegart, 2018

7 Deadly Scenarios: A Military Futurist Explores War in the 21st Century

By Andrew Krepinevich, 2009

Orchestrating the Instruments of Power: A Critical Examination of the U.S. National Security System

By D. Robert Worley, 2015

Exercise of Power: American Failures, Successes, and a New Path Forward in the Post-Cold War World

By Robert Gates, 2020

Statecraft and Geopolitics

On Grand Strategy

By John Lewis Gaddis, 2018

Return of Marco Polo's World: War, Strategy, and American Interests in the Twenty-first Century

By Robert D. Kaplan, 2018

Statecraft and How to Restore America’s Standing in the World

By Dennis Ross, 2008

The Post-American World

By Fareed Zakaria, 2008

The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made

By Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas, 2013 edition

War by Other Means: Geoeconomics and Statecraft

By Robert Blackwill and Jennifer Harris, 2016

The Dragons and the Snakes: How the Rest Learned to Fight the West

By David Kilcullen, 2020

War and the Art of Governance: Converting Combat Success into Political Victory

By Nadia Schadlow, 2017

The Ambassadors: Thinking About Diplomacy from Machiavelli to Modern Times

By Robert Cooper, 2020

REgional Security

The China Challenge: Shaping the Choices of a Rising Power

By Thomas Christensen, 2015

The American War in Afghanistan: A History

By Carter Malkasian, 2021

Asia's Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific

By Robert D. Kaplan, 2015

Wilful Blindness: How a Network of Narcos, Tycoons and CCP Agents Infiltrated the West

By Sam Cooper, 2021

Civil-Military Relations

How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales from the Pentagon

By Rosa Brooks, 2017

The Culture of Military Organizations

Edited by Peter R. Mansoor and Murray Williamson, 2019

America in the World: A History of U.S. Diplomacy and Foreign Policy

By Robert B. Zoellick, 2020


The Age of Illusions: How America Squandered Its Cold War Victory

By Andrew J. Bacevich, 2020

The Twilight War: The Secret History of America’s Thirty-Year Conflict with Iran

By David Crist, 2013

Active Defense: China's Military Strategy Since 1949

By M. Taylor Fravel, 2019

Dark Territory: The Secret History of Cyber War

By Fred M. Kaplan, 2016

Surveillance Valley: The Secret Military History of the Internet

By Yasha Levine, 2018

The Politics of Space Security: Strategic Constraint and the Pursuit of National Interests. 3rd edition.

By James Clay Moltz, 2019

My Journey at the Nuclear Brink

By William J. Perry, 2015

The Kill Chain: Defending America in the Future of High-Tech Warfare

By Christian Brose, 2020

Wireless Wars: China's Dangerous Domination of 5G and How We're Fighting Back

By Jonathan Pelson, 2021

AI Superpowers

By Kai-Fu Lee, 2018

China's Leaders: From Mao to Now

By David Shambaugh, 2021

Budgetary Concerns, Research, and Defense Contractors

The Pentagon’s Brain: An Uncensored History of DARPA, America’s Top-Secret Military Research Agency

By Annie Jacobsen, 2015

Defense Management Reform: How to Make the Pentagon Work Better and Cost Less

By Peter Levine, 2020

Business Innovation

Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas that Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries

By Safi Bahcall, 2019

U.S. Politics

The Politics Industry: How Political Innovation Can Break Partisan Gridlock and Save Our Democracy

By Katherine M. Gehl and Michael E. Porter, 2020

First Principles: What America's Founders Learned from the Greeks and Romans and How That Shaped Our Country

By Thomas Ricks, 2020